Safe working practices in Laboratories

  • Before working with or on any material or substance, ask yourself what the hazards or working with said substance are
  • Know what to do in case hazards arise, or accidents happen, always be prepared for anything that could go wrong
  • Make sure you have attended all laboratory safety training prior to suing the laboratory
  • Never work alone in the laboratory, always work with someone or under supervision
  • Know where the emergency eye wash stations are
  • Know what to do in case of and accident or emergency within the laboratory
  • Conduct yourself in a safe and responsible manner, this will reduce risk of things going wrong
  • Do not eat, drink or chew gum in the laboratory, nor should you apply contact lenses or facial products such as lip balm
  • Wear suitable clothes when in the laboratory
  • Do not used damaged equipment
  • Do not leave experiments unattended
  • Always wash your hands after taking of gloves, or moving away from experiment to do something else
  • Make sure to wear suitable protective equipment, such as eye protection, gloves and lab coats



There is legislation in place to help protect those who use scientific workplaces, and also to prevent damage and risk to the public. If there was no preventive legislation in place then there would be far more accidents and injuries due to laboratory errors which could have been easily avoided. Legislation is in place to prevent things from going wrong and harming the public and the environment.

An example of when legislation has not been followed could be the foot and mouth outbreak in the Pirbright animal lab in surrey. In this case two samples of infectious materials where leaked into the sewage system and into the incinerator, if proper legislation had been followed then this would have been prevented

It is important not to work on your own in a laboratory, this was proven when Michele Dufault died while conducting an experiment with no-one around, if there was another person in the laboratory then she may have been saved.



– This symbol means that the substance with this label is corrosive, this means that is will destroy and damage other substances it comes into contact with. People using corrosive substances should have gloves and goggles.

–  This symbol means that the substance is harmful, if you are using a substance that has this on the bottle or container then you should use eye protection, and wash any spills as soon as they happen

– This symbol means that the substance is highly flammable, eye protection should be worn, any substance with this on the label should be kept far from oxidizing substances, flames and sparks

– This is the symbol that shows whether a substance is an irritant, once again, eye protection should be worn, while handling irritants and any spills onto the skin should be immediately washed

– This symbol shows us that a substance is oxidizing. In addition to the normal precautions you would be sure to keep any oxidizing substance far from any highly flammable substance, you would wear gloves and goggles while handling this substance.

–  This symbol signifies that a substance is toxic. Both eye and hand protection should be worn as well as a face mask if necessary or use a fume cupboard.

– This symbol shows us that the substance is harmful to the environment. We would take ectra care when disposing of this substance and would wear gloves and goggles when handling

–  This symbol shows us that the substance is either explosive or an explosive component, we would have sure we kept it away from flames.

– This symbol shows us that the substance is radioactive, we would wear goggles and gloves if we where to handle this substance and would only handle it if necessary.


Sharps injuries in the NHS


Sharps injuries are a well-known risk in the health and social care sector. Healthcare workers need to be fully aware of the risks of handling sharps, legislation and local safety policies. There should be good practices and safe systems of working in order to prevent needle stick/sharps injuries. They need to be aware of the importance of recording these injuries and all available support programs.


Sharps contaminated with an infected patient’s blood can transmit more than 20 diseases, including hepatitis B, C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

If ever you receive a sharps injury you must immediately stop whatever you are doing. Encourage the wound to gently bleed, ideally holding it under running water, then wash the wound using running water and plenty of soap.  Don’t scrub the wound whilst you are washing it and do not attempt to suck it. Dry the wound and cover it with a waterproof plaster or dressing.  You must then  seek urgent medical advice and call the sharps hotline.  and  report the injury to your line manager.  They will then take all necessary details including your details and the patient’s details.  You will then be advised to go to A&E and get your bloods taken to check whether you have been infected with anything and give you any necessary prophylactic medication to help fight any blood borne infections.  They will also require you to speak with the patient whom was involve when you  received the sharps injury and obtain consent to have bloods taken from them so that the lab can check their blood for any infectious diseases.

Health and safety law applies to risks from sharps injuries, just as it does to other risks from work activities. Relevant legislation includes:



The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002

The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)

Michele Dufault ’11 dies in Sterling Chemistry Laboratory accident













Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s